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Measles spread continues in Hamilton

Measles continues to circulate in Hamilton and the surrounding areas and while still largely associated with Fraser High School, there have been a single confirmed case at Nga Taiatea Wharekura, Raglan Area School, Hamilton Girls’ High School and Hamilton Junior High School.

Waikato District Health Board’s Population Health service has to date (24 June 2014) confirmed 77 measles cases in Hamilton in recent weeks – with a significant number associated to Fraser High School. Seventeen of these cases are household contacts of confirmed cases and had already been placed in quarantine before they were unwell.

Five cases have been hospitalised but are now well.

Of the 77 cases, only four have been immunised with two documented doses of the measles, mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and three cases have received one documented dose of MMR.

Thirty three cases with clinical illness like measles have been investigated and were found not to have measles.

The public health unit is investigating about another 14 suspected cases from throughout the city.

“It’s important that with the spread outside of the Fraser High School community, that people make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of measles and to check their child’s immunity status,” said Waikato DHB medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell.

“Information has been circulated regarding the increase in cases to all schools, early child care centres and general practice.”

People who are regarded as not immune to measles are:

  • People younger than 45 years old (born after 01 January 1969) who have not had two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine or have not had a laboratory confirmed positive measles result
  • Children over four years old who have not received their second dose of MMR
  • Infants under the age of 15 months who have not received their first routine dose of MMR vaccine.  They are susceptible and rely on everyone else to be immune so that measles does not spread to them

“Measles can be a very serious illness, with one in three sufferers experiencing complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis or diarrhoea,” said Dr Bell.

“While one in 10 on average requires hospitalisation, admission rates in this outbreak have been higher.”

She reiterated that immunisation is the best protection from this potentially serious disease.

“Immunisation protects not only the individual, but also blocks the spread of this disease within our communities.”

Unimmunised people who have had contact with a person with measles, will normally be advised to stay at home and away from all public places, school or work for 14 days after their contact.

“Anyone born before 1969 or who has received two doses of MMR can reasonably assume they are already immune.”

If families suspect someone has measles they should call their doctor, where possible, before visiting to avoid spreading the disease while waiting.

Measles is spread by tiny droplets in the air and is one of the few diseases that can spread so easily to those nearby.

Dr Bell says anyone displaying symptoms of measles, which include fever, cough, blocked nose, sore red eyes, should immediately telephone their doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.

Visit www.waikatodhb.health.nz/measles  for Waikato measles information.

ENDS

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